Syracuse newest No. 1 seed in latest NCAA bracket projection

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Syracuse joins DukeOhio State and Kansas as projected No. 1 seeds in the first of our 2011 weekly bracket projections here at NBCSports.com and Bracketville.  Over the next two months, the Orange figure to battle it out with Pittsburgh, Connecticut, and Georgetown for the Big East title.  The winner will most likely emerge as a top-seed candidate.  Joining Pitt and UConn as two-seeds today are Kentucky and San Diego State. 

Remember, the NCAA tournament now features a new 68-team format. You will notice four matchups in the bracket that represent the First Four pairings. In this bracket the First Four games in Dayton would be … Drexel vs. Virginia Tech | Oklahoma State vs. Cleveland State | Jackson State vs. Sam Houston | American vs. Quinnipiac. The final four at-large teams are paired along with the teams seeded 65-68 on the S-curve.  Winners of these games advance to the Thursday-Friday sites.

Here are a couple of quick reminders … 1) The Bracket projection is not based solely on if the season ended today – particularly regarding predicted conference champions (listed in ALL-CAPS – exceptions being teams such as BYU that often go by an acronym.) The goal is to use the data we currently have and combine it with reasonable expections.  These expectations will change as teams build more complete resumes.  Expect a fair amount of change as we go through the first month of conference play. 2) Seeding is very fluid at this point.   There often isn’t much difference between a six and ten seed (now or in March). 

Note: Records reflect Division I wins and loses.  Games against D-II or D-III teams do not count for NCAA selection and seeding and thus aren’t considered here.

Next Update: Monday, January 10.

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTNewark   SOUTHEASTNew Orleans
Charlotte   Cleveland
1) DUKE (13-0)   1) OHIO STATE (14-0)
16) JACKSONVILLE (7-3)   16) HAMPTON (10-3)   
8 Florida (10-3)   8 Louisville (11-2)
9) Baylor (9-3)   9) Florida State (11-3)
     
Tampa   Denver
5) Minnesota (11-3)   5) Kansas State (10-3)
12) OLD DOMINION (9-3)   12) Drexel / Virginia Tech
4) Villanova (12-1)   4) BYU (13-1)
13) OAKLAND (8-8)   13) NORTH TEXAS (11-2)
     
Denver   Charlotte
6) TEMPLE (9-3)   6) North Carolina (10-4)
11) Arizona (12-3)   11) Oklahoma St / Cleveland St
3) Missouri (13-1)   3) Georgetown (12-2)
14) KENT STATE (8-5)   14) CHARLESTON (9-5)
     
Washington, DC   Tampa
7) Wisconsin (11-3)   7) MEMPHIS (11-2)
10) Washington State (10-4)   10) WICHITA STATE (10-2)
2) Connecticut (11-1)   2) KENTUCKY (11-2)
15) PRINCETON (10-4)   15) VERMONT (9-3)
     
SOUTHWEST – San Antonio   WEST – Anaheim
Tulsa   Cleveland
1) KANSAS (13-0)   1) SYRACUSE (15-0)
16) JACKSON ST / SAM HOUSTON   16) AMERICAN / QUINNIPIAC
8 BUTLER (9-4)   8 GONZAGA (9-5)
9) Boston College (11-3)   9) Tennessee (9-4)
     
Chicago   Tucson
5) Illinois (12-3)   5) Texas A-M (11-1)
12) Georgia (11-2)   12) West Virginia (8-4)
4) Notre Dame (12-2)   4) Michigan State (8-4)
13) MURRAY STATE (7-4)   13) UTAH STATE (13-2)
     
Chicago   Tulsa
6) Vanderbilt (11-2)   6) WASHINGTON (10-3)
11) Miami-FL (11-4)   11) St. John’s (9-3)
3) Purdue (13-1)   3) Texas (11-2)
14) COASTAL CAROLINA (8-2)   14) FAIRFIELD (9-3)
     
Washington, DC   Tucson
7) UNLV (12-2)   7) Central Florida (12-0)
10) St. Mary’s (10-2)   10) Cincinnati (14-0)
2) Pittsburgh (13-1)   2) SAN DIEGO STATE (13-0)
15) UC-SANTA BARBARA (5-5)   15) MONTANA (8-4)

 

 

NOTES on the BRACKET: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Ohio State, Kansas, and Syracuse. The two seeds in order are Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Kentucky, and San Diego State.

Last Five teams in (at large): West Virginia, Drexel, Cleveland State, Georgia, Oklahoma State

First Five teams out (at large): Dayton, New Mexico, USC, Richmond, Rhode Island

Also Considered: Xavier, Northwestern, UCLA, Missouri State, Mississippi, Iowa State, Southern Mississippi, Marquette, Maryland, George Mason, Providence, Portland, Arkansas, Virginia, UAB, UTEP

Bracket adjustments: Bracket actually flowed together without the need for seed-line adjustments. This doesn’t happen very often.

Here is the team breakdown by Conference …

Big East (9): SYRACUSE, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Villanova, Louisville, St. John’s, West Virginia

Big 12 (7): KANSAS, Missouri, Texas, Kansas State, Texas A-M, Baylor, Oklahoma State

Big Ten (6): OHIO STATE, Purdue, Michigan State, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin

ACC (6): DUKE, North Carolina, Boston College, Florida State, Miami-FL, Virginia Tech

SEC (5): KENTUCKY, Vanderbilt, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia

Mountain West (3): SAN DIEGO STATE, BYU, UNLV

Pac 10 (3): WASHINGTON, Arizona, Washington State

Colonial (2): OLD DOMINION, Drexel

Conference USA (2): MEMPHIS, Central Florida

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, St. Mary’s

Horizon (2): BUTLER, Cleveland State

Atlantic 10 (1): TEMPLE

Missouri Valley (1): WICHITA STATE

Auto Bid conference champions … Utah State (WAC), Murray State (OVC), Fairfield (MAAC), Kent State (MAC), Montana (Big Sky), Charleston (Southern), Oakland (Summit), UC-Santa Barbara (Big West), Quinnipiac (NEC), Jacksonville (Atlantic Sun), North Texas (Sun Belt), Princeton (Ivy), Coastal Carolina (Big South), Hampton (MEAC), American (Patriot), Vermont (America East), Sam Houston (Southland), Jackson State (SWAC)

Jordan Mathews three sends No. 1 seed Gonzaga past No. 4 West Virginia

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Jordan Mathews hit a three with less than a minute left and West Virginia missed a pair of threes on the final possession of the game as No. 1 seed Gonzaga won a dogfight, 61-58, over No. 4 seed Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night.

Mathews, who finished with 13 points on the night, spent 4:30 on the bench before checking into the game right before hitting the eventual game-winning three.

No. 3 Oregon advances after thriller with No. 7 Michigan

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Oregon is returning to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season following a thrilling, 69-68, victory over No. 7 Michigan in the Sweet 16 in Kansas City on Thursday night.

In a game in which neither team could fully grasp control of the game, it came down to the wire. Michigan held a 3-point lead with two minutes to play. Jordan Bell, who was unquestionably the deciding factor in this contest, came up with the first of several critical hustle plays down the stretch. He knifed in on a missed free throw, for lay-in, cutting the deficit to one.

On the ensuing Michigan possession, Bell didn’t block it but affected Derrick Walton Jr.’s shot enough to force the miss. Tyler Dorsey, the other hero for the Ducks, continued his stellar play this month with a go-ahead layup after he spun through the Wolverine defense. Bell’s close out on D.J. Wilson sent his 3-point attempt way off the mark. Bell would corral another offensive rebound on the other end of the floor, and while Dylan Ennis left the door open for Michigan following another missed free throw, Bell, deservedly, rebounded Walton’s miss as time ran out.

“Do whatever you can to win,” Bell told reporters after the game. “Me, get every rebound, offense or defense, help my team out as much as possible.”

Bell had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Tyler Dorsey poured in 20 points. Walton Jr., who front-rimmed a potential game-winner at the buzzer, ended his collegiate career with stat-line of 20 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. Zak Irvin added 19.

Dillon Brooks is definitely the star, but Bell and Dorsey could round out a big three that could lead the Ducks to Phoenix.

Before the start of the Pac-12 Tournament championship game on March 11, Oregon announced that Chris Boucher would miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. How would this effect Oregon’s defense days before it began its quest for a Final Four?

Bell has helped answer those questions on Thursday night. He’s a big reason why Oregon outscored Michigan, 34-16, in points in the paint. But his greatest impact was how he slowed down the two-headed monster of Moe Wagner and D.J. Wilson, two forwards whose increased production is a big reason why Michigan’s unlikely run extended into the second weekend of the tournament. The duo scored a combined 19 points off 7-of-20 shooting.

The other for Oregon was the continued offensive tear of Dorsey. In six postseason games, the sophomore two-guard is averaging 23.0 points per game. Playing at this level, Oregon has another go-to scorer, one who has no issue taking a big shot late in the game. In either matchup in the next round, that should come in handy. Dillon Brooks, one of college’s toughest matchups, will either be busy with Purdue’s massive frontline or locked in an all-out war with Kansas’ Josh Jackson the perimeter.

“I’m really fortunate to have Jordan for three years and Tyler for two and Dillon Brooks,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. “We’ve just been really fortunate. We’ve got good players and guys that are unselfish. They want to win. They’re competitive. We got down four there and guys could have gave into it. They didn’t. They fought their way back. Shows you what kind of competitive spirit they’ve got.”

The Ducks, the No. 3 seed in the Midwest region, will face the winner of top-seeded Kansas and No. 4 Purdue on Saturday night at the Sprint Center.

“We know Purdue is really big and Kansas is Kansas,” Altman said.

WATCH: Steve Alford end practice with half-court shot

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford ended practice on Thursday by drilling a half-court shot on the first attempt.

According to the Associated Press, this has been a season-long battle between the UCLA coaching staff and the players.

“Truth be told, we’ve been getting slaughtered. We’ve got guys like Lonzo (Ball) literally takes a jump shot from the timeline. We were just lucky that they only got one shot at it. I think coaches are down about eight on the half-court shots this year. I told them, though, that the coaches are ahead at the Sweet 16. I don’t think they’re buying it.”

No. 3 seed UCLA is set to play No. 2 seed Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night in Memphis. The Bruins defeated the Wildcats, 97-92, in a non-conference matchup on Dec. 3.

Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes to enter NBA draft

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes is entering the NBA draft.

The 6-foot-4 junior made his announcement on Instagram on Thursday and also informed the school of his decision. He did not say whether he intends to hire an agent, a move that prevent him from returning to school.

Rathan-Mayes averaged 10.6 points per game this season and averaged 4.8 assists, which was sixth in the conference. His assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.6-to-1 was third in the ACC.

The All-ACC defensive team selection helped Florida State (26-9) reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012. The Seminoles advanced to the second round before a 91-66 loss to Xavier.

Rathan-Mayes averaged 12.4 points in his three seasons with the Seminoles and is the 46th player in school history to reach 1,000 points.

More AP college basketball at http://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Rutgers guard Corey Sanders to enter NBA Draft

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Rutgers sophomore guard Corey Sanders is entering the NBA draft.

In making the announcement Thursday, the university said Sanders will not sign with an agent.

Sanders will be able to attend workouts scheduled by NBA teams and will be eligible for invitation to the league’s combine next month. Players have until 10 days after the combine to remain in the draft or return to school, as long as they don’t sign with an agent.

Sanders started 31 of 33 games this season, averaging 12.8 points and 3.2 rebounds.

Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said Sanders needs to make an informed decision on his future.

“My dream has always been to play in the NBA,” Sanders said. “I look forward to determining where I am in that journey.”

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.